I finally got to see the Warrior’s Way. Short version: I liked it. It’s not a great film, but it is fun.
Long version? This is pretty much a paint-by-numbers movie. Nothing in it surprised me. This was a collection of tropes dropped into a movie.
But I can live with that. Here’s what worked: the actors, the action, the visual style.
Jang Dong-gun is a Korean actor from my favourite Korean movie ever: Nowhere to Hide. In it, he played kind of a pretty boy cop, yet still being gritty-rough. In Brotherhood, a Korean war movie about the Korean War, he played a kind of pretty boy soldier, yet still being gritty-rough. This was the first time I’ve seen him as just gritty-rough. He did the Chow Yun Fat in the Replacement Killers, in which an Asian actor famed on the other side of the Pacific says very little in his first Hollywood (or at least American) movie.
The rest of the cast, including the always entertaining Geoffrey Rush and the always attractive Kate Bosworth, gave solid performances, making the cookie cutter dialogue much more palatable. I have to say, that this is the first time I’ve actually considered Kate Bosworth exceptionally hot. I also felt she delivered an excellent performance, at least for a kind of a B-movie actioner.
The fight scenes were fun, and there was no BS shakey-cam, get so close into the action that the viewer can’t tell what the heck is going on. The action, like so much else, was not revelatory. It was not ground breaking. It was just good—and very entertaining.
Finally, the visual style, being that so much of this movie is very obviously green-screened, was very arresting. Rather than attempt to hide the nature of the backgrounds, the movie revels in it, providing scenes and settings that grab you by the eyeballs. I really enjoyed it. Frankly, I never forgot that the setting was mostly green-screened, but I don’t know if I was meant to, because I actually loved the distance that put between me and the movie. It’s almost like the director, Lee Seung-moo, didn’t take the movie seriously, maybe knowing exactly the kind of movie he was making. It just seemed like a licence to enjoy the movie on its merits rather than worry too much about its failings.
Or maybe I just liked it because it looked cool.
In the end, if you aren’t expecting too much, I think there’s lots to enjoy here.
For more about the Warrior’s Way, go here.
Nowhere to Hide is my favourite Korean movie, but be prepared, it’s basically a bunch of cool scenes stitched together with minimal actual story.
Brotherhood was considered Korea’s Saving Private Ryan.